Monday, 20 August 2012

Remembering Tony Scott (1944 - 2012)

The sad and shocking news of Tony Scott’s death on Sunday marked the end of a life of a true film making visionary, responsible for some of the key films from the last 30 years. His filmography was undeniably hit and miss in terms of financial and critical success, but regardless of what he directed, Tony Scott never relented from his own unmistakable style and, crucially, he evolved as a film maker as the years went by.

The films Scott was driven to make in his 30 year career behind the camera were fast, furious, hi-tech, flashy, macho, and often extremely violent. His lead characters were cocky, tough, arrogant, very flawed... and often extremely violent. His films were unapologetically boy’s own adventures set in a man’s world where actions always spoken louder than words – in cars, jet planes, the fast city streets, or even a unstoppable train. 

Scott’s films were rarely deep in meaning and seldom gave the audience much to think about after the credits rolled, but his often striking visuals made the numerous of high concept pictures he directed eminently re-watchable. There is a reason why Top Gun was the most successful film of 1986 and it wasn’t all down to Tom Cruise’s face, Berlin, and Ray Bans sunglasses. Strangely, however, despite the runaway successes of Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II Scott’s remaining films never truly set the box office alight in the same way (Enemy of the State not withstanding) and no one could deny he choose material which, on the face of it, looked like hit after hit after hit. Money, of course, is not the measure of a good film maker, and his output was always entertaining, often helped by choosing great scripts from the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Shane Black, and Brian Helgeland. He even turned Kevin Costner into a cold blooded killer in 1990’s over-looked Revenge

I mentioned earlier that Scott evolved as a film maker, and this was sometimes to the detriment of the quality of his films. His 1980s and early 1990s films were all sun-drenched and vibrant with a red tint across the screen and a ceiling fan and open window blowing a conveniently placed net curtain was rarely out of shot. Moving into the mid 1990s with The Fan onwards, Scott’s style changed and the exploration of darker, green tones, unconventional angles, and onscreen text grew to be a greater part of his output; sometimes it worked to great effect with Man on Fire and Spy Game but at times the films were nothing short of dire, as was the case of the near-unwatchable Domino and the nonsensical Deja Vu

As the brother of Ridley Scott, Tony’s films never saw the critical plaudits of Alien, Gladiator, or Blade Runner and he was never nominated for an Academy Award nor, in this age of 24/7 social media, were his recent films over-hyped and talked about months before their release. He was simply an exciting film maker who made the kind of films I loved and wanted to see – and I will miss him for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment